The NFC standings and playoff picture remain mostly unchanged after Week 14.
While the Vikings rallied past Jacksonville 25-16 to improve to 7-6, the teams they are chasing in the playoff race were also winners.
Vikings fans should stop thinking about “one game at a time” and assess each week based on the outcome of these seven teams: the Vikings, Detroit, Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Washington and the New York Giants.
When taking into account this group, the Vikings were 1-6 on Sunday.
Here is why:
-Matthew Stafford led the Lions to a fourth-quarter comeback over Chicago, 20-17. Detroit improved to 9-4, moved into second place in the NFC, and maintained its two-game advantage over the Vikings and Packers.
-The Packers blew out Seattle, the NFC West’s top team, 38-10 for a third consecutive win to keep pace with the Vikings at 7-6 overall. The Vikings own the head-to-head tiebreaker 1-0, but the teams meet again on Christmas Eve. The Packers have better conference and division records (5-4, 2-1) than the Vikings (4-6, 1-3).
-The Buccaneers beat New Orleans 16-11 to improve to 8-5 and hold onto the final wild-card spot. They close out the season against Dallas, New Orleans and Carolina.
-Atlanta blew out Los Angeles 42-14 to maintain its edge over Tampa Bay in the NFC South. The Falcons, also 8-5, split with the Buccaneers this season, but currently have the advantage in the next division tiebreaker.
-Washington scored in the final minutes to defeat Philadelphia 27-22 and keep its small lead ahead of the Vikings and Packers among teams still in the hunt for the postseason. If the playoffs started this week, the Redskins would be the first team out.
-The Giants beat Dallas, the NFL’s top team, for the second time this season 10-7 on Sunday. They currently own the first wild-card spot. They close out the season against the Lions, Eagles and Redskins.
FiveThirtyEight.com is taking a similar approach to predict the Vikings' playoff odds. Before Sunday, the Vikings had a 28 percent chance of playing in the postseason and despite winning their chances dropped to 19 percent. The results of other teams obviously have a major impact on their calculations.
If the Vikings win Sunday at home against Indianapolis, they will at least gain ground on the loser of the Giants-Lions. If Detroit wins, it will help the Vikings wild-card chances, but if New York wins the Vikings will still be in contention for the NFC North title.
If the playoffs started this week, the Vikings would be the second team out as the No. 8 seed with the Lions receiving a first-round bye as the No. 2 seed. However, the NFL.com playoff predictor leaves Detroit out of the postseason.
The predictor picked winners of the final three weeks of games based on teams’ current winning percentages. According to these numbers, the Packers will win the NFC North. The wild-card spots will go to the Giants and Buccaneers. The Cowboys are the top seed, the Seahawks No. 2, the Falcons No. 3, followed by the Packers at No. 4.
In order to avoid this outcome, the Vikings will have to win-out and fans will be rooting for the Packers to beat the Lions in Detroit on the final day of the season.